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DU Students Feel the Need for Basic Reforms, if not Strategic Reforms

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Anshul Tewari

Some 47% of India’s current 1 billion population are under the age of 20, and teenagers among them number about 160 million. By 2015, Indians under 20 will make up 55% of the population–and wield proportionately higher spending power. In the emerging era of knowledge-driven globalization and declining workforce in developed countries, India with its large young population (including rural areas) has the opportunity to position itself as a quality source of skilled manpower for the world. Technical education in India covers a broad-spectrum right from Technical High Schools and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Polytechnics and all the way to colleges of Engineering, Universities of Technology and Indian Institutes of Technology.

The new economy demands new trades and new skills and competencies.

The traditional skill set is fast becoming obsolete and the world is looking at India to cap the skills gap in all sectors. The manpower shortage is a global phenomenon. India can provide a solution and therefore has a tremendous opportunity to assume global leadership.

With these growing demands are growing the needs of the students. Gearing up for the outer world is something that the universities like Delhi University in India prepare the students for. But it has often been seen that the environment in which the students are getting a hold of the development is not adequately designed to meet their needs. From infrastructural problems to faculty, the students of these universities are in dire need for change.

A number of mid and the low tier colleges of the Delhi University lack basic facilities such as a playground and other facilities for extra curricular activities. Some also have inadequate numbers of toilets. The size of the classrooms, often unable to accommodate the students, also adds to this. In its Xth plan, the University Grants Commission (UGC) allotted around 6.59 crore to the Delhi University colleges, a major part of which was devoted towards the development of infrastructure and equipment. With such problems being faced by the students, one wonders how this budget allotted to these colleges for their development is being used. Colleges like the Maharaja Agrasen College, which is currently sharing infrastructure with a local Government school, are using their funds to build a completely new building with all kinds of facilities for the students. Many other colleges in the same league are trying to overcome their infrastructural problems.

Delhi University has a faculty of around 8000 teachers. For the year 2009, the total number of seats available for admissions have been increased to 49,000 as compared to last years 42,000. Students from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), another premier institute of the DU, have no complaints with the regularity of the faculty and it is same in the case of similar colleges of the league like SRCC and Hindu. But this is not the case with a few colleges of mid and a number of colleges of the lower tier. Students of DCAC, B.R Ambedkar and Dayal Singh College often complain about the irregular faculty as well as the failure of the same to complete the syllabus on time. This also gives students the courage to bunk classes and overlook the college rules. The students, in an already free environment become even more independent. The lecturers, who often forget their moral responsibilities towards the students, put the blame on the latter.

Since the formation of the new government and more and more involvement of the youth in the country’s policy, what is the youths’ education needs and demands?

Nikita Singh, a second year student of the Amity Law School feels a dire need for practical knowledge. “They must take us to court sessions and arrange seminars with practicing lawyers. The teachers just come and speak and deliver all bookish knowledge. Even we can learn from books. Government must make practical knowledge as a necessary part of the curriculum”. “There is a need to improve the faculty. The teachers should teach in a way that involves us more with the subject.” she feels. Pratyush Patra of Maharaja Agrasen College, Delhi University says, “We need more of practical education. We want to experience the real work scenario.”

Another factor that is keeping the students worried is that of reservations. The students of Delhi University have been condemning the current quota of 49% for a long time now. Students feel that instead of a caste-based quota, India needs a quota based on financial background. Apurva Desai, pursuing Bachelor of Financial and Investment Analysis (BFIA) from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies says, “Reservations should be realistic. Only the students belonging to a lower economic background should be given reservations.” Echoes Pratyush, “Rather than having reservations at the higher education level, it must be there at the grass root level. Schools must have reservations at primary and maybe secondary level. This way the minorities could get a fair representation at the basic level and the schools could prepare them for the competition after school. But it is pointless to have reservations at the college level. It just cuts down the chances of a deserving candidate.”

The students also feel a need to update the current curriculum and the course material. They believe that it is the same as it was ten years back. Sheetal Bhalla, a second year student of B.Com (Hons.) from Dayal Singh College, Delhi University says, “We are still studying the course which was there years back. We need a new curriculum that gears us to face the competitive corporate world. Our education needs to be updated. It must have more practicality. We need exposure.”

The students who aspire to make it big in the IT industry feel a need for larger investment in IT. They want more industry specific courses that provide placement. “There is a need for investment in the IIT’s. The infrastructure of the existing IIT’s must be improved and then we must think of building new ones.” Says Apurva.

Students of Delhi University feel that infrastructure plays a major role in enhancing our educational experience. There must be actions taken by the state government to improve the conditions of a number of colleges of the Delhi University.

As far as the faculty is concerned “The faculty must be well qualified, well versed with subjects and more permanent. There must be regular checks on them so that the strikes do not affect us,” says Apurva.
She also adds, “The students grievances cell should be more authoritative. There should be an industry based approach to education so that we do not have find it hard to find a job and the college has a placement cell.”

Other reforms that students want include safer hostels and better food so that the students do not fall sick often, proper medical facilities in all colleges and more colleges dedicated towards extra curricular courses. “Following the European concept, we must have high quality colleges dedicated towards sports. Students who are good in a particular sport must be given the opportunity to take it as a career,” says Pratyush.

As far as the facilities for students are considered, students feel that everything should be net enabled. Students should find it easy to access admission forms as well as course material and the notes. The homework and projects should be accessible via the Internet and DU must come up with a net enabled platform for the students.

The students need change and feel that the re-elected government will provide them with a breath of fresh air. From better faculty to infrastructure and curriculum, the government will be needed to take care of it all.

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  1. Sanjay Uvach

    Youth should join in to make a Corruption Free India.

    Sanjay
    http://www.nobribe.org

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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